Sunday, February 24, 2008


After the peace and luxury of Katelynn sleeping through the night two nights ago, the universe has returned to balance last night, as we went to put Katelynn down (around 10ish) she would doze off and then wake up screaming every 10 or 20 minutes, take 3 or 5 minutes to be consoled, then go right back to sleep. For 10 or 20 minutes. Around midnight, we decided that Jen, being terribly sick herself, would go to bed, and I would stay up and watch a movie I've been wanting to watch, but Jen hasn't (Danielson: A Family Movie), until Katelynn finally fell asleep for real.

So, when she was still coming and going after that movie, I popped in The Queen (which Jen may have been willing to watch, but wasn't exactly holding her breath about). Around 3 am I decided to feed Katelynn (she normally eats around this time). She happily drank her whole 4oz bottle (pretty typical for this feeding... or so I hear, it's the first time I've ever done it). She was then calm and peaceful when I laid her down to change her diaper, and I thought to myself, "self, she's finally ready for bed!"

She then proceeded to calmly projectile vomit her whole bottle across the living room floor. Which didn't bother her in the slightest. After a moment, I rocked her onto her side, then went and enlisted backup. Jen took her temperature (100.4), and we called a consulting nurse (the best perk of Group Health), and all decided to take her into the emergency room. Where they gave us some infant Tylenol, and Pedialite (both of which we have at home, of course), several hours of waiting, a $75 co-pay, and the assurance that we were smart to come in, but she was going to be fine, which I believe the punchline goes, "is priceless."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sleep + Pics

The good news is that Katelynn slept through the night for the first time (midnight to seven), the bad news is that we think it's just because she's not feeling so well.

Here's some amazing photos our friend Jenn Clark took:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quoting is easier than blogging, take 14

10 years ago, Eve Ensler declared Valentine's Day "V-Day," and began a movement to use the day to draw attention to violence against women and girls.

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations.

Some other interesting St. V Day notes:

(The intro to an article by NANCY GIBBS, TIME MAGAZINE, Thursday, Feb. 07, 2008)

I'm sentimental about many things: the lumpy feel of a baby's unused feet, the metallic smell of the air before the first snow, the last scene in It's a Wonderful life. But Valentine's Day leaves me cold. It's a holiday that has no idea of what it's really celebrating. Or at least no idea of whom it celebrates: St. Valentine could be any of half a dozen Christian martyrs whom the early church recruited to clean up and bless pagan fertility festivals. Of the top candidates, the best known is a priest named Valentinus, who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius the Cruel on Feb. 14, A.D. 269. Upon slim evidence, whole layers of legend are stacked: that Valentinus performed secret weddings after Claudius banned marriage to prevent soldiers from deserting his armies; that he refused to deny Christ and so was thrown in prison, where he healed the jailer's blind daughter; that he fell in love with her and left a note in the cracks of his cell the night before his execution, "From your Valentine.''


Professor Oruch has made the case that the traditions associated with "Valentine's Day", documented in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parliament of Foules, and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, had no such tradition before Chaucer.
English eighteenth-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine's identity, suggested Valentine's Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia.


The reinvention of Saint Valentine's Day in the 1840s has been traced by Leigh Eric Schmidt. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howard took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received, so clearly the practice of sending Valentine's cards had existed in England before it became popular in North America. The English practice of sending Valentine's cards appears in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mr. Harrison's Confessions (published 1851). Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual "Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary" award.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


By David Ignatow For Harvey Shapiro
I stand and listen, head bowed,
to my inner complaint.
Persons passing by think
I am searching for a lost coin.
You’re fired, I yell inside
after an especially bad episode.
I’m letting you go without notice
or terminal pay. You just lost
another chance to make good.
But then I watch myself standing at the exit,
depressed and about to leave,
and wave myself back in wearily,
for who else could I get in my place
to do the job in dark, airless conditions?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Know I'm not Alone

Franti isn't a film maker, he's a rock star, but very early in the war in Iraq, he took a handful of friends and flew into Bagdad for a first-hand view of the war. The first half of the film is in Bagdad, visiting homes, hospitals, and soldiers. For the second half, Franti flies into Israel and Palestine. He frames the first half of the film as the examining the beginnings of an occupation, and the second half as examining the long-term results of occupation. More than anything, you get the sense he was an American who wanted to see what's going on in the Middle East personally.

Franti is clearly an outspoken peace activist (wandering around in a war zone in flip flops and dreadlocks), but is mostly charitable in his story telling. There are scenes where he's deeply wrestling with whether his convictions are enough when he's in the presence of American or Israeli soldiers who's lives are on the line. In other places he (unaware of himself) broadly paints troops with his same contempt he feels towards the governments of the United States and Israel. So, it's a mixed bag as far as agenda vs curiosity, but it ends up feeling pretty human.

More than anything, I was overwhelmed by the faces and stories in Iraq. It left me with the strong sense that our media has not put any human faces to this war for me. I was deeply surprised by how much I liked these smiling little girls, these happy old men, these resourceful taxi drivers and doting grandmothers.

The story also brought a lot more clarity to me about the history and realities of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. If you feel as ignorant about that conflict as I do, this felt like a good place to play catch up.

Probably not available at your local Blockbuster, but you never know...

Friday, February 8, 2008


"Jesus did not call us to have church and church more abundantly"

-MIPC staff meeting, quoting an author I'm unfamiliar with (and don't remember the name of...)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Is the adoption for sure yet?

Almost, most likely, yes.

The key ingredients in this all wrapping up:

A. The birth mother relinquishing her parenting rights by signing a form. (done)

B. The birth mother must make a communication agreement with us and sign it. (done)

C. Amara (the adoption agency) must file these (A+B) in court (Happening Thursday, or early next week) which terminates her parental rights.

D. Amara must publish, in the legal notices of a local paper (one so small we've never heard of it) that it intends to sever the father's rights if he doesn't come forward. This takes about a month (Amara has never had a father reply).

E. Amara the files to terminate the father's rights. At this point, Katelynn will be completely in the custody of Amara.

F. This summer, we'll go before a judge and finalize the adoption.. Katelynn will be reissued a new birth certificate with "FitzGerald" as the last name. (The only way we can screw this up is to commit a crime in the next few months so significant it lands us on the front page of the paper)

The biggest variable, by far, is the birth mother changing her mind before her rights are terminated. All of the paperwork is complete for that process, and it will be finalized in the next few days.

So we're about to cross the big finish line, but not the final one. It's hard to wait, but this feels like everything is coming together...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

The kickoff of Lent. A day to turn around, to leave behind harmful pieces of one's life. This (Fat Ash) Thursday, ZERA will be marking our forheads with ashen crosses, as we move into Lent...

In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays) It can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10.

At services of worship on this day, ashes are imposed on the foreheads of the faithful. The priest, minister, or in some cases officiating layperson marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the shape of a cross, which the worshiper traditionally retains until washing it off after sundown. The act echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one's head to signify repentance before God (as related in the Bible).

The priest or minister says one of the following when applying the ashes:

Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. (Latin: Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.)
—Genesis 3:19

Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
—Mark 1:15

Repent, and hear the good news.
—Mark 1:15

The ashes may be prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebrations. In some churches they are mixed with light amounts of water or olive oil which serve as a fixative.

Lent, in most Christian denominations, is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where, according to the Bible, he endured temptation by Satan.

The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, as celebrated during Holy Week, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Western Christianity, Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday until Maundy Thursday. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter", a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fat Tuesday

The prelude to Lent. This Thursday ("Fat Ash Thursday" for our community) ZERA will be feasting on lasagna as a nod to Fat Tuesday while honoring a personal story, before we turn towards ashes and readiness for Lent. Today is the day to use up the luxury food items (traditionally by making pancakes) while preparing to enter a season of solemness. Historically, this made sense as a last celebration of Winter food stores (that were about to go bad) and a bracing for the tough months ahead while anticipating the coming of Spring (and a fresh food supply). We paired our tough season with the reminder that Jesus faced tough seasons as well... including 40 days without any food.

Quote for the day: "I don't feel like I'm being invited into Lent, more like I'm tazered into it." (MIPC staff meeting)

Fat Tuesday ("Mardi Gras" in the French) is the day before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent), and is also called "Shrove Tuesday" or "Pancake Day".
The reason that pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent is that the 40 days of Lent form a period of liturgical fasting, during which only the plainest foodstuffs may be eaten. Therefore, rich ingredients such as eggs, milk, and sugar are disposed of immediately prior to the commencement of the fast. Pancakes and doughnuts were therefore an efficient way of using up these perishable goods, besides providing a minor celebratory feast prior to the fast itself.
The word shrove is a past tense of the English verb "shrive," which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by confessing and doing penance.

Photos of Katelynn

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Yes, We Can

Listening for a Whiff

Wendy H brought this excerpt from Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith) to our Thursday night group this week.

“I tried to explain: ‘Well, once you stop believing in an old gentleman with a beard . . . It’s only the word God, you know – it makes such a conventional noise.’

‘It’s merely shorthand for where we come from, where we’re going, and what it’s all about.’

‘And do religious people find out what it’s all about? Do they really get the answer to the riddle?’

‘They get just a whiff of an answer sometimes.’ He smiled at me and I smiled back and we both drank our Madeira. Then he went on: ‘I suppose church services make a conventional noise to you, too – and I rather understand it. Oh, they’re all right for the old hands and they make for sociability, but I sometimes think their main use is to help weather churches – like smoking pipes to colour them, you know. If any – well, unreligious person, needed consolation from religion, I’d advise him or her to sit in an empty church. Sit, not kneel. And listen, not pray. Prayer’s a very tricky business.’

‘Goodness, is it?’

‘Well for inexperienced pray-ers it sometimes is. You see, they’re apt to think of God as a slot-machine. If nothing comes out they say, ‘I knew dashed well it was empty’ when the whole secret of prayer is knowing the machine’s full.’

‘But how can one know?’

‘By filling it oneself.’

‘With faith?’

‘With faith. I expect you find that another boring word. And I warn you this slot-machine metaphor is going to break down at any moment. But if ever you’re feeling very unhappy, well try sitting in an empty church.’

‘And listening for a whiff?’

We both laughed and then he said that it was just as reasonable to talk of smelling or tasting God as of seeing or hearing Him. ‘If one ever has any luck, one will know with all one’s senses – and none of them. Probably as good a way as any of describing it is that we shall ‘come over all queer.’

‘But haven’t you already?’

He sighed and said the whiffs were few and far between. ‘But the memory of them everlasting,’ he added softly. Then we fell silent, both of us staring at the fire. Rain kept falling down the chimney, making little hissing noises. I thought what a good man he is, yet never annoyingly holy. And it struck me for the first time that if such a clever, highly educated man can believe in religion, it is almost impudent of an ignorant person like me to feel bored and superior about it. For I realized that it wasn’t only the word ‘God’ that made me feel like that.”